Publication: The Star Issued: Date: 2001-03-07 Reporter: Sapa Editor:

Defence Body Supports Scopa's Probe

Publication  The Star
Date 2001-03-07
Reporter Sapa
Web Link

The national assembly's defence committee on Wednesday gave its backing to the procedures followed by parliament's watchdog public accounts committee (Scopa) in its handling of the controversial R43,8-billion arms deal.

Chairperson Thandi Modise said Scopa had the support of her committee. 

"It is necessary to acknowledge that you are doing what is required of you," she said. 

The defence committee's role was to look at policy issues rather than financial matters, said Modise, adding: "You have the support of the defence committee - we don't have expertise in matters of finance." 

Zuma accused the committee of seriously misdirecting itself 

Modise said she had asked Scopa to formally brief the defence committee on the state of the probe into the package because the committee had previously received information only from press reports. 

She said she was also concerned about the public perception that her committee was not doing anything in this regard. 

Scopa's handling of the deal has been severely criticised by Deputy President Jacob Zuma and four cabinet ministers. 

In a strongly worded letter, dated January 19 and addressed to Scopa chairperson Gavin Woods, Zuma accused the committee of seriously misdirecting itself, and arriving at decisions on the arms deal that were not substantiated by facts. 

Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, Trade and Industry Minister Alec Erwin and Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota appeared before the committee last month to explain their criticism of Scopa's resolution - adopted by the national assembly in November - to parliament. 

Along with Public Enterprises Minister Jeff Radebe, the four told a press conference in January that the committee was incompetent and irresponsible, and did not understand how arms deals worked. 

Woods said Scopa would meet on March 14 to start writing its second report to parliament about the probe. 

With acknowledgement to Sapa and Independent Online.